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BICOM (Britain Israel Communication & Research Centre 01-Jul-16
The Palestinian economy is stuttering in the West Bank, and is in a dire condition in the Gaza Strip. In both cases, whilst the causes are inseparable from the political conflict with Israel, they also relate to internal Palestinian political challenges and the role of third parties.
- Many Israeli officials recognise that improving the Gaza Strip and West Bank economies will reduce the chances of violence. Israel has recently taken steps to improve the situation, and there is support from the IDF for major infrastructure projects to transform the Gaza Strip.
- However, cooperation and development are hampered by complex factors including:
The security threat posed to Israel by Hamas;
The political division and rivalry between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas;
The resistance of Egypt to any steps which might help Hamas;
International concerns not to grant legitimacy to Hamas and thereby undermine the PA;
Tensions between Israel and the PA exacerbated by recent Palestinian violence and the PA’s policy of confronting Israel in international fora;
Political resistance on the Israeli right;
The deal to re-establish ties between Israel and Turkey, linked to Turkish demands to open up Gaza;
Shortfalls in donor aid.
- Improving the Palestinian economy is a shared Israeli-Palestinian interest, and much can be done even in the absence of a broader shared political horizon. However, major changes require international support, which must come with a recognition of the complex factors involved.
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The foreign ministers of Russia and Turkey met on the sidelines of a regional economic conference in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on July 1, just days after a letter from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan helped restore ties between the two countries, AFP reported. The relationship between Turkey and Russia soured late in November 2015 after Turkey shot down a Russian jet near the Syria-Turkey border. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov opened the meeting by saying he hoped it would help set the tone for normalizing relations. Ties have quickly warmed in the days after Erdogan’s letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier in the week; The two presidents spoke by telephone June 29 and Moscow rolled back travel restrictions to Turkey just one day later. A Kremlin spokesman said the meeting between the foreign ministers could pave the way for a meeting between the presidents within the next few months. Ultimately, however, larger forces will limit the extent of any Russia-Turkey rapprochement.
(A consortium led by US firm Noble Energy has approved a $265-million project to sink a new well in a major natural gas field off Israel, officials said on Sunday.
Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration, Israeli firms that are part of the partnership led by Noble, announced the financing for the Tamar field in the Mediterranean.
“The Tamar partners decided to approve a budget of about $265 million for drilling ‘Tamar 8’ and connecting to existing infrastructure in the Tamar field,” Delek and Avner said in a joint statement.
It said the latest well would allow “maximum supply from Tamar field during times of peak demand, in light of the volume of production from Tamar and the existing and expected demand for natural gas from the field”.
Tamar 8, the field’s sixth production well, is located about 100 kilometres (60 miles) offshore and would reach a depth of around 3.5 kilometres below the sea bed, it said.
Drilling is projected to start in the last quarter of this year.
Completion of the well and its connection to the existing pipe network is expected to take four months, the statement added.
The Tamar field was discovered in 2009 and began pumping in 2013.
It is located some 130 kilometres off the Mediterranean port city of Haifa and has estimated reserves of up to 238 billion cubic metres (8.4 trillion cubic feet).
Its gas is so far being used for domestic supply within Israel.
The US-led consortium is also developing Israel’s mammoth Leviathan gas field and aims to bring it online in 2019.
Israel hopes the development of Leviathan will allow it to export gas, which could help grease the wheels of regional diplomacy.
Leviathan, discovered in 2010, is estimated to hold 18.9 trillion cubic feet (535 billion cubic metres) of natural gas, along with 34.1 million barrels of condensate.
Development of its own energy resources is seen as a major strategic asset for Israel, which has no oil and little water.
UK-EU:160703:(05-JUL-16):Andrea Leadsom is the woman to lead Britain out of the EU and towards a bright future
Sunday Telegraph 03-Jul-16
Last week, the British people voted unambiguously to leave the political arrangements of the European Union; they chose the bright clear voice of optimism in the face of an onslaught of negative advice from the political establishment.
They could see that the fifth biggest economy in the world with all the UK’s advantages of its internationally spoken language, its time zone, its robust rule of law, its history of entrepreneurship and innovation and its links to countries across the globe would not be diminished by breaking away from the inward-looking, sclerotic EU.
Andrea Leadsom MP accuses Mark Carney of making a ‘dangerous intervention’ in EU debate Play! 00:48
The next prime minster has a crystal-clear mandate to bring us fully out of the EU and back onto the world stage where we belong.
I believe there is one person who can fulfil this mandate. One woman who understands out means out. One woman who has an optimistic vision for our future. One woman who would be the first prime minister in 26 years with a solid understanding of economics needed to steer our economy competently and confidently. As a businesswomen, a mother and an exemplary local MP, she has acquired a true understanding of the needs and aspirations of the people up and down the land.
I am backing Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom to be our next Prime Minister.
Who is Andrea Leadsom? Head and shoulders above the rest, Andrea ran the cleanest, clearest campaign for the future of our country based on the arguments. She has consistently acted with honesty and integrity.
She spoke throughout the campaign with authority, as a mother who wanted the best chance for her children and their children to thrive in a sovereign nation in control of our borders, our laws and our finances.
Unlike other candidates, Andrea has been preparing for the outcome of this historic vote for years. Within a year of becoming an MP, she had set up the Fresh Start Project to examine the options for a new UK-EU relationship. She co-published a paper laying out the reforms the European Union absolutely had to make for it to be in UKs interests to remain, all of which as we know the EU stubbornly refused to budge on.
Andrea Leadsom MP accuses Mark Carney of making a ‘dangerous intervention’ in EU debate Play! 00:48
Andrea understands that the country voted unequivocally to end free movement of people. She recognises the public concern about the strain on schools, hospitals and housing caused by uncontrolled immigration. If current levels of immigration continue, we will have to build a new house every six minutes for 25 years to meet the demand. It is unquestionably unsustainable.
At the same time, Andrea understands that the country did not vote to pull up the drawbridge, to retreat to the 1950s and become little Englanders. She knows this was a vote for the reverse – a return for the UK to the world stage with our full seat back on global trading bodies.
“The EU’s record at putting free trade deals in place is weak and getting worse.”Andrea Leadsom, the pro-Brexit energy minister
Andrea is an internationalist who knows that the UK benefits hugely from highly skilled doctors, engineers and scientists. She understands we will benefit far more when we are free to choose the brightest and the best from around the world, regardless of whether or not they hold an EU passport.
Andrea has a successful background in business. She knows how to establish good trading links with our neighbours in Europe and the rest of the world. Despite the temptation to punish us to discourage others from quitting the project, EU countries will come to sensible trading arrangements with the UK. They sell £70 billion of goods and services more to us than we sell to them. As the head of the German CBI has acknowledged, it is manifestly in their interests not to damage their own industries that rely on the British buyer. Finally, when Andrea talks about life chances, it is not empty rhetoric. She has worked with colleagues from all the political parties in Westminster to compile a ‘The 1001 Critical Days Manifesto” focusing on protecting babies from neglect or abuse that can prevent them from leading happy, healthy lives. She truly cares about addressing the gap between the haves and the have-nots in this country.
Last week’s vote marked a new dawn for Britain. We chose to have a fresh start. For this we need a leader from the next generation of talent in the party. Andrea Leadsom has the experience, the skills and the character to make the most of this great opportunity for our country
Katz sees this initiative as a platform for international cooperation. Among the countries that could take part in this project, he sees Russia and China.
The island is planned to be constructed at around 4.5 kilometers from the coast. It will be equipped with a seaport, an airport, sea water desalination plant, power station and a hotel. There are no residential houses planned on the island.
The island will be connected to the Gaza Strip by a bridge. According to Yisrael Katz, this is inherently an economic project, but it carries a strategic and political importance as well. As stated by Katz, the program will greatly facilitate lives of residents of the Gaza Strip as it will be an important step on the path to civil dissociation from Israel.
In an interview with Sputnik, Professor of the Center for the Study of International Relations at China’s University, Yan Mian, said, “If this project will help improve the situation around Gaza Strip, or help Gaza, for example, in terms of fresh water, or construction of the port that will somehow able to eradicate civilian life problems in Gaza, then China will consider taking part in such a project.”
China’s expert from the Diplomatic Academy, Ren Yuanzhe, also shared his views on this matter with Sputnik saying that, “First of all, China attaches great importance to peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Secondly, the construction of the islands can also help pacify the situation in the region.”
The expert further noted that China initiated the establishment of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, offered to build interconnection of transport and communication on an international scale. There are already preliminary projects of the AIIB in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Tajikistan.
“Therefore, the future of construction in the Middle East could become a platform for a joint international effort,” Yuanzhe said.
Russia is one of the leading powers that may be able to participate in such a project as Russia has the necessary experience and knowledge about the Middle East, as well as good connections to the heads of State in the region, the Israeli politician Yisrael Katz said.
According to the Washington Post’s report on this initiative, the Jewish state is actively seeking financial partners for the 5 billion dollar project. Chinese participation would reflect the geopolitical aspirations of the economic diplomacy of Beijing.
Talking about China’s geopolitical interests in the region, known Israeli political scientist and president of the Institute of Eastern Partnership, Rabbi Abraham Shmulevich, said “In fact, it is an old idea about the construction of an artificial island. It was put forward many years ago more than a decade ago, by Shimon Peres, then Prime Minister.”
Haiyang Shiyou oil rig 981, the first deep-water drilling rig developed in China, is pictured at 320 kilometers (200 miles) southeast of Hong Kong in the South China Sea
“The idea from the technological point of view is doable. In terms of political and economic perspective it is also clear enough. Why was China invited to participate? There is absolutely no surprise there because China is very careful, smartly and consistently increasing its presence in the region around Israel,” Smulevich said.
He further said that China has huge investment projects across Africa and the Middle East and has also consistently invested in global transport infrastructure.
“The strategic and economic objectives are clear: to become a real world power, to control the flow of goods and to stop being a country that is completely dependent on Western technology and investment,” Smulevich explained talking about China’s agenda.
He further said that China is already implementing transportation projects in Israel.
“The Chinese always offer very good investment conditions, since the aim is not only to obtain economic benefits, but also geopolitical goals — strengthening the country’s influence. China has consistently taken control of the world’s transport infrastructure. China’s participation in the Israeli project would be one such example,” the expert said.
When asked what prompted the First Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, Yisrael Katz, to view China as a potential participant of this mega-project, the chief editor of the Tel Aviv publishing house News Week, Leonid Belotserkovski, said, “What pushes them mainly is the fact that the Chinese construct quite fast and deliver a high quality product. I can say that these guys construct marvelously.”
He further said that the Chinese are already involved in building Israeli port of Ashdod which is a new Israeli, modern port.
“The Chinese are generally active in the Israeli economy, especially in the sphere of high technology, where Israel is a world leader. That is a bit dangerous but what can you do,” Belotserkovski said.
He further added that the role of Israel’s high-tech development in China is pretty large. In China’s agriculture, a lot is done by the Israeli experts, including breeders, who have special farms. Therefore, the cooperation is mutually beneficial,” the editor concluded.
Russia regards the Black Sea as its Mare Nostrum (“our sea”) and will block any effort to provide for the legitimate defense of NATO members there.
By invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin has transformed the security situation in the Black Sea.
Upon capturing those territories, Moscow lost no time in seizing Ukrainian energy facilities in the Black Sea and accelerating its ongoing military modernization there.
As a result, Moscow has built a combined arms force of land, sea, air and electronic forces that NATO leaders admit is fully capable of denying access to NATO forces seeking to enter the Black Sea during a conflict.
It has also deployed nuclear-capable weapons to the Black Sea area and is apparently building a similar network of anti-access area denial (A2/AD) capabilities against NATO in both the eastern Mediterranean around Syria and in the Caucasus.
Thus, as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has noted, Russia is well on its way to converting the Black Sea into a Russian lake, an outcome that endangers the security of all the states along the sea’s edges. Centuries of historical experience suggests that these threats will continue, along with increased efforts to intimidate these littoral states.
Romania, for example, is particularly concerned about threats to its energy platforms in the Black Sea, as well as about freedom of navigation there and control of the mouth of the Danube. Ukraine’s remaining port, Odessa, is at constant risk. Turkey is now surrounded to the north, south and east by Russian troops in the Crimea, other areas in Ukraine, Syria and the Caucasus.
Since Romania and Bulgaria import Russian energy, and Turkey imports at least 60 percent of its gas from Russia, their vulnerabilities—along with Ukraine’s susceptibility to new and old threats—are quite visible.
Consequently, the governments of Romania, Ukraine and Turkey are all undertaking major reforms to enhance their defense capabilities and are endeavoring to formulate structures of regional cooperation beyond NATO. They may also be concerned, as were their governments in the 1930s, that the West might not be there to rescue them in times of crisis, and that they will have to foster regional cooperation themselves.
Ukraine and Turkey have announced intentions to increase their capacity to provide for their own defense by building new warships and improving the effectiveness of their defense establishments. They have also embarked upon talks to engage in joint defense production, primarily in turbojet aircraft engines, radars, military communications technologies and navigation systems.
Romania is raising its defense spending in line with newly established defense plans and is also promoting regional naval cooperation among these three states.
A candid assessment however, would admit that these plans, though eminently sensible, face serious obstacles. Regional cooperation ventures in Eastern Europe have never succeeded in the past, largely because of differences among the local states and the opposition of great powers, and a number of stumbling blocks exist now.
Poland’s and Turkey’s domestic politics are alienating many in Europe and the United States because of their visible turn toward authoritarianism. Hungary has already gone in that direction and Greece is a focus of Russian attention to prevent its further integration with the EU and NATO.
Moscow has also successfully intimidated the Bulgarian government to the degree that it publicly refused to join any kind of regional cooperative security organization and naval agreement, a decision that severely undermines any realistic chance for effective regional naval coordination in the Black Sea.
Finally, Turkey’s apology on July 27 to Russia for the downing of a jet over Syria in November 2015 also complicates efforts. On July 1, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu took part in a ministerial meeting of a group of the Black Sea nations hosted by Russia in Sochi, a trip that offered a chance to negotiate a rapprochement. One condition of this rapprochement will likely be no regional security organization in the Black Sea and efforts to induce Turkey to preserve its policy of keeping NATO out of the Black Sea in peacetime.
In addition, Putin has already stated that because Romania and Poland are hosting elements of U.S. ballistic missile defense defenses, they will become Russian targets. While such statements are habitual tactics, they reflect Moscow’s determination to threaten its neighbors and are made with the belief that Russia really does have the potential to intimidate these governments.
When NATO meets in Warsaw on July 8 and 9, it should not downgrade the Black Sea, as it has been considering. Recent events show that Russia regards it as its Mare Nostrum (“our sea”) and will block any effort to provide for the legitimate defense of NATO members there, not to mention Georgia on the Eastern shore.
NATO might be tempted to make the Baltic a clear focus and priority, but this response, while understandable, is a myopic one. History shows that Russian domination of the Black Sea inevitably leads to pressures throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Syria is merely the latest example.
The fact is that NATO’s defense efforts to date, though substantially better than they were in 2014, have little to show two years after the invasion of Ukraine. Much more can and should be done to prevent Russian intimidation of the Black Sea littoral states and the collapse of the vital project of European integration in this area.
Europe and the United States have the resources to support those peoples who wish to remain free from Russian imperialism. The question is, however, do they have the will and the vision to match their resources?
Arutz Sheva 04-Jul-16
With the UK having voted to leave the EU, could this be the start of an exciting journey into pastures anew such as the Israeli market?
Thursday the 23rd June 2016 will forever be recorded in the history books as the momentous day which saw Great Britain’s record voting turnout of over 70% leading the impending exit of the world’s 5th largest economy from the slowly crumbling EU bloc.
At the time of its establishment, the EU was an ideal that appeared to be starting to become realized. It was to become a trading and economic bloc among a handful of European nations that could work together for economic prosperity and stability.
As the years and decades progressed, more and more countries sought and established full EU membership, slowly but surely leading to what would become arguably one of the biggest bureaucracies of our time. In time, the EU shunted itself and its laws into its members’ national laws and ways of life; creating a system that entrapped members, but which was almost impossible to get out of.
When it comes to Israel, while the relationship between Israel and the UK has occasionally become somewhat ‘strained,’ the two countries do for the most part enjoy a good and mutually beneficial relationshi. This is particularly clear in the business world of London, where Israelis are the innovators of so many new companies and services. The UK’s economy is service-based, with the vast majority of the contributions from the UK being its world-renowned services sector.
This is tied with the relationship between the UK and Israel and it is plain to see. It isn’t just the estate agents in London in the prosperous property market who are feeling the benefits of financial and intellectual input from Israelis. For example, increasing numbers of short term loan companies, start-ups, restaurants and innovative businesses are popping up all over with the strong help of some of Israel’s brightest and most innovative minds.
The EU on the other hand does not encourage or help these links. Rather, the 28 (soon to be 27) member union funds questionable and controversial projects, often to the clear detriment of Israel and its citizens, with some of the mentioned projects being downright illegal, as exposed recently by the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper.
Britain’s looming exit (commencing when Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty is invoked) from the EU has huge ramifications for the EU, Great Britain and the wider world. Britain is currently the 5th largest economy in the world and boasts the fastest growing western economy in the world today. Alongside the slowing, yet large economy of Germany, Britain has been one of the supporting pillars of the EU.
From its strong economy and more than £10 billion net contribution to EU coffers per year, to its outstanding intelligence services and military power, Britain has over time seen itself contribute disproportionately to the EU and its idealistic projects.
The EU though doesn’t really ever like to acknowledge the errors of its ways. A prime example is how it has dealt with the ‘Euro-Crisis’ in Greece and among many member states on the continent. While the Greek economy was failing, the EU continued to lend far more than the 7% of GDP it previously agreed upon. This has in turn led to crippling consequences for Greece.
Then there is Angela Merkel’s dealing with the hundreds of thousands of migrants coming to Europe from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan and more. By telling the world on behalf of the entire EU that ‘all are welcome’ to come to Europe, she opened up floodgates that have already demonstrated dire consequences in France. Belgium and beyond.
However, with Britain working towards its exit of the EU, this could and indeed should signal the start of very exciting times ahead. Rather than being heavily restricted to the 17% of the global economy, which is found in the single market of the EU that member states have access to, the UK can look towards building bridges and profitable trade agreements with emerging and strengthening states including the likes of India, China, Brazil, Australia – and Israel.
Britain has never had a problem attracting some of the best and brightest minds and businesspeople to its shores, and the EU’s single market has proved itself to be a useful resource for the UK and its industry. However, with the UK soon able to negotiate its own trade and relationship deals and with the EU’s slowing overall economy, the tide could be changing for the better for the UK, Israel and the rest of the world.
Nigel Farage, one of the leaders of the successful “leave” campaign in the United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum, says he will step down as the leader of the right-wing UK Independence Party, Reuters reported July 4. His departure follows the announced resignation of Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister David Cameron and a Labour Party vote of no confidence in its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The political disarray in Britain could delay implementation of its withdrawal from the European Union.
The first of a number of Turkish trucks carrying food and clothing aid has crossed through Israel into the Gaza Strip, the Associated Press reported July 4, in another sign of the thawing relationship between Ankara and Jerusalem after a six-year estrangement. Shared strategic interests have led to improved ties between the two nations, which were strained after an Israeli raid on a Turkish flotilla trying to run the Gaza blockade in 2010 left 10 Turks dead.
MAR-MSY-RU-TIS:160704:(05-JUL-16):Russia to send its largest warship to Syria as Putin prepares final push to destroy ISIS
Daily Mail 04-Jul-16
VLADIMIR Putin is preparing to send Russia’s biggest battleship to Syria to crush ISIS at source.
The Admiral Kuzetnov is poised for dispatch in the autumn equipped with jet fighters and armoured helicopters ready to fight the terrorist group.
The move comes after the attacks on Bangladesh, where 20 hostages were hacked to death in a Dhaka restaurant, and Baghdad where 125 people were killed in a car bomb in the Iraqi capital.
The Admiral Kuzetnov is poised for dispatch in the autumn equipped with jet fighters and armoured helicopters ready to fight the terrorist group
Vladimir Putin makes the move comes after the attacks on Bangladesh, where 20 hostages were hacked to death in a Dhaka restaurant, and Baghdad where 125 people were killed in a car bomb in the Iraqi capital
The giant ship can carry up to 41 jets and 18 helicopters on board and is 305m in length
It will be based close enough to the Syrian coastline so that Russian troops can complete military tasks and return back
The huge ship can carry up to 41 planes and 18 helicopters and is 305m long.
It will be based close enough to the Syrian coastline so that Russian troops can complete military tasks and return back, a source told TASS.
The military-diplomatic source said: ‘The General Staff has prepared a plan for involvement of the deck aircraft in delivering strikes on terrorist groups in the Syrian Arab Republic, where the crews will practice taking off the carrier to deliver strikes on ground targets.’
In a joint effort between the Admiral Kuzetnov’s crew and militants located at the Hmeymim Base, the Latakia airbase in Western Syria, strikes will be carried out in close coordination.
‘The Admiral Kuznetsov,” which will lead the Russian Navy’s permanent grouping in the Mediterranean Sea, will be close to the Syrian shore ‘so that the deck aircraft have enough fuel to complete the military tasks and return back,’ the source added.
On July 1, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said Russia’s Project 11435 aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will receive the Kamov Ka-52K (NATO reporting name: Hokum-B) helicopter this year (2016).
A military and diplomatic source told TASS earlier that the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov would arrive in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea in autumn.
The ship is currently undergoing shipbuilders’ trials in the Barents Sea after repairs.
ISIS suffered further set-back on Sunday when the Iraqi town of Fallujah was declared fully liberated on Sunday.
Only scattered signs of ISIS’s self-declared ‘caliphate’ remain in Fallujah, a city west of Baghdad which was seized by anti-government fighters in early 2014 and later became a key jihadist stronghold.
Iraqi forces declared victory on the weekend after government troops routed the remaining ISIS fighters from the city’s north and west under the close cover of US-led coalition airstrikes.
The battle, which began May 22, was the latest in a string of territorial defeats for ISIS in Iraq over the past year.
With airstrikes from UK and US forces
already leaving ISIS clinging onto its strongholds, it is hoped Russia’s intervention will see to the collapse of the caliphate.
The European Commission could make a last-minute U-turn on plans to ratify a Canada free trade deal amid member states’ complaints.
The issue at stake is whether to ratify CETA, the EU-Canada take pact, via the EU institutions simply, or to give national parliaments a say,
Several commissioners, including commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, have in the past argued it was enough for the EU Council, represented by the 28 EU trade ministers, and a majority in the European Parliament to conclude the deal.
They said that CETA covers matters that are the exclusive competence of the EU.
But some countries, notably Austria, France and Germany, have said that CETA is a ”mixed” agreement, which also contains provisions that fall under member state responsibility.
Under the mixed model, all 28 EU states’ legislatures would also have to give their approval. That would include, in some cases, devolved parliaments in federal EU states such as Belgium, Germany and Spain, bringing the total figure to 38 separate assemblies.
The German deputy chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, has warned that attempts to bypass national parliaments would provoke anti-trade and eurosceptic sentiment, which is already on the rise in Germany and elsewhere in Europe.
French president Francois Hollande and Austrian chancellor Christian Kern have said the same.
Most parliaments are likely to give the deal a green light, but not the ones of the Netherlands and in the Belgian region of Wallonia.
Bulgaria and Romania have also threatened to veto the pact unless Canada grants their citizens visa-free travel.
The commission has said that a ”simple” ratification process by the Council and the European Parliament would be democratic because trade ministers could ask their parliaments on how to vote.
Its legal service has ruled out that CETA is a “mixed” agreement.
Many MEPs also say their vote would provide the necessary parliamentary scrutiny.
But Financial Times reports that Juncker got cold feet after last week’s EU summit, where he failed to receive the support of heads of government for his point of view.
Other media report that Germany is unhappy with Juncker’s high-handed behaviour ahead of and after the British referendum on EU membership.
Speaking in the margins of last week’s summit, Juncker declared that he ”wasn’t ready to die at the altar of legal issues”.
The college of commissioners will decide on the ratification process during their meeting on Tuesday (5 July).
The commission has in the past asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to clarify the nature and ratification process of a similar agreement, on trade relations with Singapore, but the case has been stuck in court since 2014.
The decision on CETA is also likely to act as a precedent for the future EU-US trade deal, TTIP, that is currently being negotiated.
New Europe 01-Jul-16
Noble Energy has said its discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean provide an opportunity to deliver energy security and economic development for Israel and Cyprus. And – through exports – to the region.
The restoration of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel after a six-year break creates fresh impetus for regional alliances in the exploration, development and export of hydrocarbons in Eastern Mediterranean.
Ankara and Tel Aviv signed a reconciliation deal on June 26 to restore ties, ending years of tensions following a deadly 2010 raid on an aid flotilla that sought to breach Israel’s security blockade on Hamas-held Gaza. The deal includes $21 million in Israeli compensation for Turkish victims of the Mavi Marmara incident.
The reconciliation deal preluded a decision by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian Vladimir Putin to restore relations, severed by the 2015 Turkish downing of a Russian jet in Syria. “Turkey-Israel negotiations were going on and America was supporting to establish these relations again,” the former CEO of state-owned BOTAŞ Petroleum Pipeline Corporation, Gokhan Yardim, told New Europe in Thessaloniki on June 29. “But if we established the relations and made the agreements with the Russians before the Israelis, I’m sure the Americans would be sad,” he said on the sidelines of 9th Southeast Europe Energy Dialogue, organised by IENE. “But the timing was very good and very proper way this happened,” he added.
Yardim said that following the reconciliation agreement between Ankara and Tel Aviv, many private Turkish energy companies are very enthusiastic to get involved in Israel’s offshore Leviathan project. “But it’s not easy to realise the Leviathan project because it needs huge investment,” he said.
Yardim, who is currently the general manager of Turkerler Energy Investment Holding in Turkey, argued that for the Leviathan field, the most economical and easiest way is to bring part of the gas to Egypt and liquefy it because there is a capacity there. But he also argued that part of the gas could be exported via Turkey. “I’m convinced that the reserves of Leviathan are enough to realise two projects,” Yardim said.
IENE Executive Director Costis Stambolis told New Europe in Thessaloniki that some regional gas could be exported to Turkey. “I don’t think there are any advanced plans to transport gas via Turkey to Europe,” he said. “It doesn’t make economic sense. But it does make sense for gas from the region to land in Turkey and for this gas to be consumed to cover local, domestic needs. Because Turkey is trying to diversify its gas supply, minimise gas coming from Russia,” he added.
Stambolis said the race for exporting gas from Eastern Mediterranean is on. “We assume that new gas from the East Med will become available in two-three-four years from Leviathan, maybe a little extra from Tamar or neighbouring fields, from Aphrodite [Cyprus], and also from Zohr, if there is an accommodation with Egypt concerning Egyptian consumption,” he said.
“This gas, at this stage, we cannot say which direction is going to go. There’re already some fairly advanced plans for this gas to be sold to Egypt, either for domestic consumption or to LNG liquefaction terminals,” he said.
At the same time, Stambolis reminded that Greece’s DEPA is developing plans for the East-Med gas pipeline, which is supported by the European Union, and would have a capacity of 8-10 billion cubic metres.
The British have voted against their own interest, Herman Van Rompuy told EurActiv.com in an exclusive interview, contending that the UK’s isolationist mentality cut off its emotional link to Europe. The EU can go further without Britain on security, defence and foreign policy, he said.
Herman Van Rompuy is a Belgian politician, who served as the prime minister of Belgium from 2008 to 2009, and then as the first president of the European Council, between 2009 and 2014.
He spoke to EurActiv.com’s Editor-in-Chief, Daniela Vincenti.
You might be surprised by my first question, which you might find a bit provocative. But since the Brexit vote I can’t stop thinking of Karl Marx, who wrote that history has a habit of repeating itself, first as tragedy then as farce. Are we witnessing a farce?
You say that history repeats itself. I always add that it repeats itself, but not in the same way. Each time it’s something new.
This exit is a novelty, not a repetition because it’s the first time it happened. It’s too serious to call it a farce. So it has to be tragedy. But it is first of all a tragedy for the UK, as well as being a major setback for the EU.
Brexit is hurting economically and politically the UK more. People voted against their own interests. It is a strange situation, since the UK, “fatherland of common sense” is making a critical mistake. And mistake here is a soft word.
Some Visegrad countries blame Juncker and the Commission for pushing the UK towards Brexit. Is that fair? Who is to blame?
Cameron apparently did the same in the European Council. It infuriated a number of leaders and is the reason why the meeting of the 27 the day after came to a harsher resolution than what was previously envisaged.
I think that labelling the Commission as responsible at this stage verges on farce. There was an agreement between the EU and the UK. That agreement was backed also by the Visegrad countries, also on the most difficult point for them: free movement of people, something that played a huge part in the referendum debate.
When history is written one day, the position of the UK Conservative government will come under scrutiny, as well as the role of the ‘populist’ press.
The European institutions are not the ones that campaigned or interfered. It was a British problem, so if you are looking for those who were responsible, you have to look internally. The voters have spoken, they aren’t always right, but they have spoken; that has to be respected.
There are still calls for a second referendum…
I’m not British, but I can’t imagine that after such a long campaign, after everything was put on the table, lies and truths included, that the process will be repeated. That will be a farce.
Even though it happened in Denmark and Ireland, I can’t imagine that this will not be respected given the British tradition. A lot is going to happen before the day they leave. Every day will be a surprise. But there’s no other option than to implement the result of the referendum.
At the EPP40, you said that there should be no nostalgia. Do you think Britain is still trapped in nostalgia for its imperial past?
The result of a referendum has to be analysed carefully. There are a lot of factors at play. My first question was: Was it all about Europe? There has been a decade-long agreement about the UK’s involvement in the European Union, given its opt-out from asylum, Schengen, the eurozone etc.
This long history of Euroscepticism has been translated into political positions.
But was it all about Europe? My British friends said that austerity, rising inequality and anger at government policy played an important role.
A referendum is a chance for a voter’s opinion to be heard. One of my political fathers said that in a referendum, people answer questions that were never asked. This could explain the difference of 4% between the two camps, between 52 and 48%.
What is driving this anti-European feeling? British history has been markedly different to the rest of Western Europe. The EU is a peace project, but for the British it was more an economic project.
There was never an emotional link with the EU. This was the case in the 1950s, 60s and 70s in other parts of Western Europe. In the UK, you have always had that transactional view on Europe, rather than an emotional link.
Then you have geography. The UK is an island. Add to that religion and its effect on their mentality. 500 years ago, they founded their own church, breaking with Rome. The Commonwealth too has reinforced this stand-alone mentality.
A part of the Leave campaign cited the referendum as a battle to be won like in the 1940s. Britain won the war but not alone. It did with the United States and others. This idea of a glorious past played a part on the referendum, to what extent I don’t know. But it might have made a difference.
Your successor, Donald Tusk, warned that Brexit could spell the end of Western civilisation. Is it really?
I’m not a historian, just an economist and to some extent a philosopher. We have to be prudent when projecting the current scenario into the future though. It’s a difficult moment. It’s, of course, an important one in the EU’s history. However, it has little to do with civilisation. It has more to do with history of an important dream which brought peace to Western Europe.
In the short-term, we’ll see how things will evolve. There is only one constant element in this matter, the surprise. A paradox, I know, but true. We’ll see in the coming weeks, months and years how this will evolve.
I was struck by what he said. Do you think he meant democracy rather than civilisation?
I don’t know. If you ask me what changed civilisation over the last 50 years, I see two main elements. First, May ’68. The French Prime Minister at the time said it was a crisis of civilisation, not the end. It changed civilisation.
May 68 changed all the relations with authority in society. It was the beginning of the liberalisation of the individual, not philosophically, but in its personal life. The individual stopped accepting the authority of the church, of the school, political authority and tried to make its own mind. I am deeply convinced that this was a change in our post-war civilisation.
The second change in civilisation was the collapse of communism, because over 70 years that ideology was considered to be the one that was going to conquer the world. Then it collapsed without one shot. That changed civilisation. Brexit won’t.
Jean Monnet famously wrote that Europe would be forged in crisis. Brexit will likely lead to a constitutional crisis of unprecedented proportions. How is this going to unfold?
When you say constitutional crisis, it is the UK that is going to suffer with it more than the EU. The damage is more there than on the continent. Here, we have to very careful.
Each situation is different. Each situation has to be judged on its own merit. Don’t believe for a second that the remaining 27 are imploding. Shared values, interests and ideas will keep it afloat.
Imagine a referendum in an important country of the eurozone, it would threaten the latter and the EU itself. It is a completely different situation to a non-eurozone state. What’s happening to the UK on the financial markets is a clear signal to other countries.
Most of the non-eurozone countries, especially those in Central and Eastern Europe they have a strong interest in staying in because of security reasons. That’s why they wanted to join so soon after independence, given the Russian threat and the protection offered by the EU. Most of those countries receive about 4-5% of their GDP in structural funds as well.
In terms of values, often underestimated, the strong will of leaders and public opinion to remain in the EU, plays a part. People have doubts and scepticism about the way policy is conducted. But scepticism in the existence or raison d’etre of the EU is really a minority.
You are talking about doubts about the functioning of the Union. Do we need to reopen the Treaty? Do we need another convention then?
I was never in favour of that or making major changes to the treaties. Reflection is always possible, of course. Treaty changes can’t be excluded in the long-term, that’s just common sense.
Starting now a process for a convention is not a good idea. Calls for a convention can come from federalists, but it can also lead to less Europe, in the current climate.
I think we need two kinds of Europe: Europe of results and the Europe of the necessary—which have nothing to do with the reorientation of the Union but with a renewed dynamism.
The Europe of results has to provide many more visible outcomes in terms of employment, for example. It’s not just a task for the Union, a lot can be done at a national level-we need micro-reforms of the labour market.
We have to work on uncontrolled immigration. Like many, I am not a fan of the EU-Turkey agreement, but at least it works. Even though I feel a lot of compassion for those refugees, but our societies don’t accept it any more. It could fuel populism, extremism, instability, not just in small countries, but in larger ones too. Immigration is still a big issue, because people think that it can happen again. More has to be done.
Terrorism is another issue. There is a broad range of concerns that affect daily life that can be mitigated by results. This can be done without a convention and treaty change. The Europe of necessary is about the Energy Union, Digital Market, roaming tariffs, deepening the monetary union, making progress in the Banking Union etc.
All without treaty change?
Yes, it’s a matter of drawing conclusions from what we already have. For the economic and monetary union, it is just about drawing conclusions from having a common currency. It’s as simple as that.
We have the four presidents’ report. It isn’t meant to be implemented in the short-term. Interesting things have been done and the eurozone is more stable. But, If another financial crisis happened, we need more instruments to enhance the stability of the eurozone.
Some are advocating to move towards a two-speed Europe. Last week, for example, Slovakia called for returning EU power to the capitals. Clearly there is tension. How do we overcome it?
It is not forbidden to reflect on the far future. But not open the Pandora’s Box. Opening a debate that could have unforeseen results. You don’t need a Convention to make big leaps forward.
As far as Slovakia is concerned, the rotating presidency plays a much less important role now since the introduction of a permanent president of the European Council. They have no programme as they once did, for example.
They implement the decisions made by the European Council. In the UK, and the Netherlands, they did a survey on what kind of competences could be repatriated from Brussels.
They concluded that almost nothing could be returned. All of these competencies are so entwined and it is very difficult to disentangle them from each other. What the Slovaks are suggesting is nothing new. But anyone thinking that it might happen is set to be disappointed.
I don’t see the need for a two-speed Europe once the UK has left.
What about a two-speed Europe?
What does that mean? Along eurozone lines? Nineteen out of the 27? What kind of two speed is that!
I think that the idea of a two-speed union was invented by those whose analysis concluded that the Brits prevent us from making progress.
During my five years, I was never hindered by Britain in stabilising the eurozone. The thought that Britain was preventing progress, is completely untrue. It was in the interest of the UK to have a stable Eurozone, but they were constructive, when it came to the Banking Union. I don’t see the need for a two-speed Europe once the UK has left.
In one area, we can go further without Britain: in terms of security, defence and foreign policy. In December 2013, I organised a summit on defence. The British press reported it as Barroso in charge of the EU army. A disgrace. I was careful in this area, because I knew how much room for manoeuvre the UK had. Now it is leaving, I think we can do a lot more on defence and security, as well as military cooperation. Gradually and prudently. There are fewer constraints post-Brexit.
We were very active in Ukraine, less through the institutions, more through the member states. But we had a shared position on the sanctions. We were absent to a certain extent in the Middle East. We are more interested in what is happening in, for example, Syria, than the US and Russia, even if it is just because of the refugee crisis. We need stronger engagement by the European Council. It has to play a major role in foreign policy and defence. The European Council takes the lead on other issues. Without this leadership on defence and security, as well as foreign policy, it won’t happen. I mean this collectively, not just Donald Tusk.
When you say military cooperation, does this include an EU army?
No. We can do a lot in terms of cooperation, but there are a lot of sensitivities, even after Brexit. We can do much more in putting capabilities together, working on what we already have (battle groups), cyber-security etc.
The Libyan war taught us a lot. It was started before the involvement of NATO, with the thought of winning it without their help. But after two weeks we needed it. We need to put existing capacities together, which will create new capacities.
Back to Brexit. You talked about May ’68. Young people voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU. Does Britain need a May ’68 to create the 21st century Britain?
I’m reluctant to say anything on the UK, not being British. If I were a young person in the UK, I would be very angry.
The world of tomorrow, of 2030, is not far away. Take a deep breath and you are there. In that world, the Brexiteers won’t be there. I can imagine the anger, because if you are aware that a vote is a vote and a result is a result, you end up living in a world you don’t want. Because you want an open world. I know that the EU isn’t the only way of being open, but apparently for them, it is.
In such an existential debate, everything is put on the table. The youngsters decided that openness to the rest of Europe was the way forward. A new world has been created for them without their consent.
How can the EU remain open to them?
We have to go through these difficult negotiations first. We have to live in the real world. That will be a lot more confrontational than a lot of people think. In a negotiation, you defend your own interests. That’s the nature of it. It’s not going to be easy.
There is political will to find an understanding, I think, but in respect to principles and respect of our interests. But the new situation will be created after this. I hope that there will be strong support in the UK to reach out scientifically and intellectually to the EU, because nothing should be excluded from the future.
We are divorcing after 40 years. We have to find new ways to continue to share. We share so much already, not just history, values and ideas. This is if separation does indeed happen.We have no clue what will happen in the short-term and you never know what history will bring.
On the young people, that gives me a lot of hope. Europe is built on the peace project and it played a big, big role. The older generation is normally more in favour of Europe, because they either lived through the war or they heard stories of it. That is my personal experience too. For me, the war was a lively spirit in my heart. What’s happening now, is that the older generation is now voting against this peace project. Those with no recollection voted in favour.
I see hope in this tragic story, because young people are looking to the future not the past. I saw a rock festival on TV yesterday. The young people at the festival were asked if they were going to go watch Paul McCartney play. Most said they didn’t know who he was!
So the young people are in favour of this openness and are proving themselves to be less influenced by fear, unlike their older counterparts.
The alarmists have everything exactly backward.
Brexit has brought forth a legion of Chicken Littles. They have predicted doom for the United Kingdom, stripped of its free access to the European Union’s common market, diminished in its own realm by Scottish independence and, then, the departure of Northern Ireland.
The sky is not going to fall.
The U.K. is a net importer from the EU, so any tariff war or trade restrictions will hurt EU businesses more than U.K. companies, especially exporters in Germany, which is a huge trading nation. As for Scotland, it can’t afford its independence.
Nevertheless, over the weekend, Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Scotland’s semiautonomous government, announced that a second independence referendum was “on the table” — second, because Scotland just held a referendum in 2014, when 55% of Scots voted to remain in the U.K. Scots are understandably bitter today because most voted to stay in order to retain membership in the EU via their membership in the U.K.
However bitter and rebellious the Scots may be now, nationalist aspirations do not translate automatically into readiness for independence. Scottish independence has always been predicated upon North Sea oil revenue. Unfortunately, the long-term decline in North Sea production has continued and oil prices have collapsed. In terms of the SNP’s historical rallying cry, “it’s Scotland’s oil,” but it won’t pay for independence.
Indeed, this year saw the release of several studies of what might have been. On March 24, which would have been the first day of independence had there been a yes vote in 2014, London’s Telegraph published a review of the various studies under the headline “Independent Scotland ‘would have started life today £2,000 per person worse off’.” Analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies pegged an independent Scotland’s budget deficit at 9.4% of its gross domestic product, considerably worse than the minimal requirement for EU entry (a deficit no worse than 3% of GDP).
Sturgeon was not alone with unconsidered immediate reaction to the Brexit vote. A passel of EU mandarins announced that the U.K. would have to withdraw from the EU forthwith, so jilted did they feel. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel overruled them, saying the U.K. could take its time. No doubt, Merkel had done a quick calculation of national interest, taking into account Germany’s 50 billion euro in annual net exports to the U.K (trade of 90 billion euros in German goods vs. only about 40 billion euros for the U.K.), according to Germany’s Destatis statistics office. She must have realized that she couldn’t let those EU commissioners run amok, chasing the U.K. out and imposing punitive tariffs. A 10% EU tariff on U.K. goods, for example, would be met by a retaliatory 10% tariff on EU goods entering the U.K. That would cost Germany about 5 billion euros a year.
The alarmists have everything exactly backward. It is the EU that is under threat of dissolution, and it is the EU’s strongest member, Germany, that would be most vulnerable were trade relations to deteriorate. There are increasingly strong opposition political parties in most EU countries, which are anti-EU, anti-euro and anti-immigration, such as the National Front in France and the Freedom Party in the Netherlands. According to Goldman Sachs, in opinion polls in May, the National Front drew 27% public support and Freedom 35%. These are significant levels within the context of the typical multiparty system in most European countries.
On the trade front, the alarmists have missed another German and EU vulnerability: currency exchange rates. Instead of manifesting disaster, the precipitous decline of the pound sterling, if prolonged, would provide the U.K. a tremendous trade boost — and a substantial headwind for German and other EU members’ exports to the U.K. So Merkel is not going to support punitive measures that would seriously and permanently damage a key trading partner, weakening its currency in the long term. And that reality extends to the EU’s treatment of London. The financial center in that city constitutes a disproportionately large proportion of U.K. GDP, and the EU has its own self-interest in its remaining that way.
The EU needs the U.K. as much or more than the U.K. needs the EU. This reality will bring cooperation rather than the opposite. Again, the sky over the U.K. is not going to fall.
Red Jahncke is president of The Townsend Group International, a business consulting firm.
Naharnet Newsdesk 05-Jul-16
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil held talks in Moscow prior to the Ain al-Tineh agreement between Speaker Nabih Berri and Free Patriotic Movement chief Jebran Bassil regarding the issue of offshore oil and gas exploration, a media report said on Tuesday.
“The Berri-Bassil agreement was preceded by an understanding between Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil and Russian officials during the minister’s recent visit to Moscow,” al-Akhbar newspaper reported.
Khalil is a close aide to Berri and a member of his AMAL Movement.
“The agreement with the Russians involved Moscow’s commitment to extract oil and gas from the three southern blocks of Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which neighbors Israel’s oil and gas blocks,” al-Akhbar said.
“Moscow also committed itself to addressing any crises that might be stirred by the (Israeli) enemy,” the daily added.
According to the newspaper, the Berri-Bassil agreement was preceded by reports suggesting that the Lebanese disputes over oil and gas exploration were linked to “a dispute over the nationalities of the companies that would be tasked with offshore excavation.”
Turning to Washington’s alleged role in the latest drive, al-Akhbar said “the US was interested in securing deals for its companies to excavate for oil and gas in the offshore blocks off Lebanon’s northern coast,” noting that the Americans had “pressed the political forces to reactivate the file and mediated to end the dispute over the demarcation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.”
“This practically means that the domestic agreement on oil and gas exploration was the result of a prior Russian-American deal on splitting shares,” the daily added.
The Kuwaiti al-Anbaa newspaper had reported Sunday that the executive decrees for offshore oil and gas exploration would be issued within two weeks.
The disagreement between AMAL and the FPM has hindered agreements on energy extraction for years.
Lebanon has been slow to exploit its maritime resources compared with other eastern Mediterranean countries. Israel, Cyprus and Turkey are all much more advanced in drilling for oil and gas.
In March 2010, the US Geological Survey estimated a mean of 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 34.5 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas in the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean, which includes the territorial waters of Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Cyprus.
In August 2014, the government postponed for the fifth time the first round of licensing for gas exploration over a political dispute.
The disagreements were over the designation of blocks open for bidding and the terms of a draft exploration agreement.
Lebanese officials have continuously warned that Israel’s exploration of new offshore gas fields near Lebanese territorial waters means Israel is siphoning some of Lebanon’s crude oil.
MLE:160705:(05-JUL-16):Report: Petroleum Authority Says Lebanon’s Southern Oil Fields are ‘Promising’
Naharnet Newsdesk 05-Jul-16
Lebanon’s oil exploration file is back to the forefront after it was shadowed by the overall paralysis governing the country, at a time when Israel is about to start its oil production which threatens to syphon off Lebanon’s oil and gas where the fields overlap.
Lebanon’s petroleum authority has finally obtained “seismic” surveys conducted by one of the foreign companies tasked since 2002 for that purpose. The surveys show that the oil reservoirs in the southern region are promising especially blocs 8 and 9, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Wednesday.
The new information is based on surveys obtained by the six-member petroleum authority which has analyzed the data and submitted it to Speaker Nabih Berri, PM Tammam Salam and Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian, sources of the authority told the daily.
They pointed out that the report revealed new information which proves the presence of oil in the sea, mainly in bloc 8, and that the authority had no information about it before that.
The findings have renewed the authority’s concerns that Israel would take advantage of this wealth, particularly where the oil and gas fields overlap, in light of the political inaction in dealing with this file.
It voiced calls to speed up the exploration and extraction to cut the road short on Israel’s hopes.
Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a zone that consists of about 854 square kilometers and suspected energy reserves that could generate billions of dollars.
Lebanon has been slow to exploit its maritime resources compared with other eastern Mediterranean countries. Israel, Cyprus and Turkey are all much more advanced in drilling for oil and gas.
In March 2010, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated a mean of 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and a mean of 34.5 trillion cubic meters of recoverable gas in the Levant Basin in the eastern Mediterranean, which includes the territorial waters of Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Cyprus.
In August 2014, the government postponed for the fifth time the first round of licensing for gas exploration over a political dispute.
The disagreements were over the designation of blocks open for bidding and the terms of a draft exploration agreement.
Lebanese officials have continuously warned that Israel’s exploration of new offshore gas fields near Lebanese territorial waters means the Jewish state is syphoning some of Lebanon’s crude oil.
Beirut argues that a maritime map it submitted to the U.N. is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, an agreement which is not contested by Israel.
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